Born Main Rousseau Bocher in Chicago, Illinois, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Chicago, and later at the Art Student's League in New York. While an interest in music brought him to Munich and Paris for voice training, he also dabbled in fashion by sketching clothing for several designers, earning him some notoriety at Paris's Salon des artistes décorateurs. At the onset of World War I, he returned to New York to study vocals, financed by selling sketches to ready-to-wear manufacturer Edward L. Mayer. Bocher enlisted in the Army during this period and once again landed in France where, after a failed attempt at a singing career, he pursued a career as an illustrator at Harper's Bazaar. In 1923, he joined French Vogue as fashion editor and was promoted to editor-in-chief in 1927. Bocher left Vogue in 1929 to open his own fashion house, Mainbocher. For an American in Paris, he enjoyed a great deal of international renown with an impressive list of clients that included socialites and royalty alike. Mainbocher's wedding dress for Wallis Simpson, wife of the Duke of Windsor, created a stir on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1939, at the onset of World War II, Mainbocher returned stateside and reopened his salon in New York. During his forty years in the business, Mainbocher was responsible for creating some of the most beautiful couture dresses, suits, and eveningwear. "Wallis blue" and "Venus pink" were names associated with his collections, as was the first strapless evening dress. Mainbocher was commissioned to design uniforms for the WAVES (a group for women in the naval reserves; an acronym for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), the American Red Cross, and, in 1948, the Girl Scouts. In 1971, Mainbocher closed his business and returned to Europe until his death.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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